Friday, February 21, 2014

Shouganai

There are some (actually a lot of!) Japanese words which are difficult to translate to English.

I've written about the greeting お疲れ様(otsukaresama) before.
http://nihongonihongo.blogspot.jp/2005/10/are-your-friends-tired.html

Today, let's talk about the expression しょうがない(shouganai).

"Shouganai" is very Japanese expression and one of the most difficult words to translate.

I would describe

"I can't do anything, so I give up"

"Shouganai" is used in those situations.

-She was going to coming to our party but her schedule has been changed and she canceled. It's "shouganai".

-The shoes I wanted to buy were sold out when I went to the shop. I should've been there earlier. It's "shouganai".

-I have wrinkles on my face and I don't like them. It's "shouganai".

If the topic is very serious like earthquake or someone's death, you don't say "shouganai".
"shouganai" sounds too light for those serious situation.

When I wrote this topic on Twitter, some people suggested their ideas of translation for it.

"whatcha gonna do?"

"it can't be helped."
"It's not worth complaining about."
"That's just the way it is."

Since I don't really understand the actual nuance of those English words, I can't tell which is the "best answer" but discussing this kind of topic is always very interesting.

Oh, by the way, there are polite ways to say "shouganai", too.

Casual
しょうがない(shouganai)

Polite
仕方ない(shikatanai)

Extremely polite
致し方ない(itashikatanai)

Having different polite level for one expression is complicated?

It's... shouganai!


Special thanks to Japan This, Billy and Richard on Twitter conversation!

Here is the website about Japan "Japan This". 
Check his informative and cool blog!
http://markystar.wordpress.com/

8 comments:

  1. This is actually a really, really interesting post! I enjoyed it a lot. You actually brought the meaning of the word to my attention, haha. しょうがない is one of those words I hear a lot, but never even think of the meaning behind it. Definitely going to make a note about this somewhere.

    I think all those translations people gave you work well for しょうがない. I think if I was translating it myself, I would phrase it different depending on the situation.

    "Whatcha gonna do?" would be appropriate if somebody was shrugging their shoulders.

    "It can't be helped" would be appropriate if somebody looked a bit sad or if they looked like they didn't care much, but were a bit disappointed by the outcome of the situation.

    "It's not worth complaining about" would be appropriate if somebody didn't seem to care (or pretended not to care) about the situation.

    "That's just the way it is" would be appropriate for somebody who seems to accept that they cannot do anything about the situation.

    I probably would also translate it to "I can't do anything about it" as well, which gives off an impression that somebody has given up on something. At least, it does to English speakers.

    (I tried to explain the nuances of those English sentences...not sure if it helped or not, haha.)

    I have to go check out more of your blog now. =P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comments! Your explanation is very clear and I agree with your ideas.
      So! The most difficult point is that we have (much) more than one word to translate しょうがない... ;-)
      That's so confusing but the other hand this is an interesting point of language isn't it.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous9:56 AM

    素敵なブログですね!いつも日本語教えてくれてありがとうございます。日本語は本当に素晴らしいと思います。Greetings for Argentina. ^.^ 頑張りましょう。

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. どうもありがとうございます☆ 日本語は難しいと思うけど、はい、おもしろいですよね!
      ブログのupdateがんばりますので、よろしくお願いします。(^ ^)

      Delete
  3. Anonymous2:37 PM

    I agree with TrainerKelly. I was going to say "There's nothing I can do about it." I heard and used "shikataganai" a lot more and never heard "shouganai." I lived in the Touhoku region for two years.

    Ted

    ReplyDelete
  4. thuốc bổ khớp glucosaminChondroitin Sulfate kích thích quá trình tổng hợp các Proteoglucan - thành phần cơ bản tạo nên sụn nên có tác dụng tái tạo mô sụn, bảo đảm sụn vừa chắc vừa có tính đàn hồi.
    thuốc khớp glucosamine của mỹ MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) là chất hữu cơ thiên nhiên Sulfur Assimilation được sản sinh từ biển, được gọi là chất chống viêm.
    thuoc xuong khop cua my Chất này chiếm vị trí thứ 9 trong hàm lượng khoáng sản cơ thể, tác dụng tối ưu của nó là trị dứt các cơn đau. Chất MSM là chất bột kết tinh tự nhiên, ổn định, không mùi, không có ảnh hưởng đến ruột.
    thuoc glucosamin cua my Công hiệu khi dùng MSM trị các cơn đau: Các cơn đau phần lớn tập trung ở tế bào cơ thịt. có nhiều loại cơn đau được quy là do lực áp xuống tế bào, khi tế bào chịu áp lực bên ngoài, nó sẽ trương phù và trở nên viêm.
    thuốc xương khớp glucosamine Thông thường, tế bào sẽ mất đi sự dẻo dai đàn hồi từ đó tạo thành các cơn đau. Hiệu quả khả quan của MSM chính là duy trì sự lưu thông của tế bào, làm tan biến các chất không tốt đối với tế bào, khiến nguồn dinh dưỡng vào cơ thể dễ dàng, phòng tránh tế bào chịu lực áp, từ đó sẽ cắt được các cơn đau.
    thuốc bổ xương glucosamine Những bệnh nhân viêm khớp mỗi ngày sau khi bổ sung lượng MSM, sẽ giảm và trị được các bệnh viêm khớp.
    thuoc bo khop glucosamineCác thành phần Wellesse Joint Movement Liquid Glucosamine kết hợp cần thiết, thành phần tự nhiên trong một công thức lỏng toàn diện để duy trì sức khỏe chung và bảo vệ sụn khớp từ việc vận động cơ thể hằng ngày.
    thuốc bổ xương khớp glucosamine Thật tuyệt vời với công thức chất lỏng có thể dễ dàng hấp thụ vào cơ thể. Wellesse Joint Movement Liquid Glucosamine bổ sung MSM, Glucosamine chondroitin và collagen.
    thuoc bo khop glucosamin cua my Các thành phần cần thiết được pha trộn với nhau theo một công thức chất lỏng, rất dễ uống.
    thuoc bo khop glucosamin Vì khi chúng ta bổ sung bằng chất lỏng, các thành phần được hấp thụ vào máu có thể sẽ nhanh hơn so với bổ sung dạng viên hoặc bột.
    thuoc bo xuong khop cua my Move Free Joint Health là hãng dược phẩm Hoa Kỳ đi đầu về các sản phẩm điều trị liên quan đến cơ và xương khớp.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shouganai kara

    I think the closest meaning is often (depending on the situation) is "it's not worth complaining about..."

    Almost like accepting a small defeat and burying the disappointment it in the phase. Yet still quite casual, almost light hearted.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous5:44 AM

    Hi Ako !

    I just saw your page and will be poking around more.

    As an American who has been to Japan many times and speaks a fair amount of Nihongo, I would also say shouganai would translate well as-

    Can't help myself or can't help yourself.

    For example, I saw a beautiful shirt I wanted and had to buy it even though I really couldn't afford it, I couldn't help myself (shoganai)

    I think this is a little more positive way of using the word that also works for the meaning.

    Cheers !

    Martin

    ReplyDelete